If a nuclear bomb was dropped tomorrow there’d only be cockroaches and Primal Scream left standing. Since Bobby Gillespie vacated the Jesus and Mary Chain drum stool to front his own disparate gang of soul survivors, Primal Scream have gone through many members, shape shifting in and out of countless genres. Some hits, some misses but always pushing, driving on to their next sonic destination, never staying there long enough for the imitators to catch up.
The Scream hit the Olympia tonight in outrageous form. As the lights go up a bright red suit struts onto the stage with Gillespie inside it. Andrew Innes slashes at the opening chords to ‘Movin’ On Up’, the crowd is immediately up and the evening never looks back. ‘Jailbird’ and ‘Rocks’ both get fearlessly earlier airings.
When trying to describe what sort of music Primal Scream make I can’t help thinking of that episode of The Simpsons where a doctor is explaining to Mr Burns that the only reason he’s alive is that he’s riddled with so many diseases they’ve all got caught in the doorway of his immune system. Except in this case the diseases are musical genres and the doorway they’re stuck in is Primal Scream.
Latest album, the brilliantly titled Chaosmosis sees them leaning back toward electronic dance grooves but is heavily laden with Innes’ trademark grimy guitar licks. ‘Tripping on Your Love’ and ‘(Feeling Like A) Demon Again’ from the same album elicit the sort of response usually withheld for established fan favourites but neither the band nor the crowd are holding back tonight as they tear into tune after tune of high-octane rock’n’roll. The bluesy sing-a-long ‘(I’m Gonna) Cry Myself Blind’ is the only respite from the frantic pace, a lighter lit vigil for lost love.
Simone Butler tackles the unenviable task of replacing Mani with ease, knitting everything together with Darrin Mooney seamlessly to drive the performance forward.
The band dust off Screamadelica sucking the crowd into a euphoria. Stewards flash futile flashlights in the faces of those dancing in the front rows of the upper and lower circle. The crowd ape the brass section of ‘Loaded’, it’s a Mexican stand-off between the band and the audience to see who’ll crack first, finally the band bow out and take a minute to soak up the love. ‘Come Together’ has much the same effect, there’s a palpable sense of community. They close the set with a storming rendition of Riot City Blues hit ‘Country Girl’ and the crowd stream out into Sycamore Lane suitably nourished.
Primal Scream have been at it so long you tend to forget just how many great songs they’ve got in their cannon. A gig like tonight’s is an emphatic reminder.
Primal Scream photographed for State by Leah Carroll